Something new for Palmyra’s rail Trail

Contributed by Kris Krechoweckyj, Palmyra Area Revitalization Committee

For almost 70 years the Virginia Air Line Railroad (VAL) was a much-loved fixture in Fluvanna County. Since 1908, in a time when many people did not own cars, VAL provided a real service transporting people as well as freight. The VAL spanned a 30 mile stretch of rail connecting the C & O Railroad’s James River Line near Bremo Bluff to its Main Line at Lindsay. However, times change and by the post war 1950s former rail passengers preferred the flexibility and pleasure of driving their own cars. Trucking over improved highways eventually replaced rail freight. By the 1970s the railroad could no longer compete with changing attitudes. The VAL was discontinued, and the tracks completely removed by 1978. James F. Perrin, who represented the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, declared the loss of the VAL “a great tragedy for Fluvanna County.”

In 2004, 25 years later, the old VAL rail bed gained a new life as a walking trail.. Another 15 years passed when the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors tasked the volunteer Palmyra Area Revitalization Committee (PARC), a group that emerged from an FLDP project, with encouraging improvements in the village of Palmyra.

The committee endeavored to complete several village projects, one of which was developing a nature guide for the rail trail. The new guide would include items of nature along the half-mile trail as well as some rail line history. PARC requested assistance from the Rivanna Master Naturalists who could readily identify the nature.  Regarding rail line history PARC approached the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society in Clifton Forge which provided interesting historical information about the VAL.

Walking this intriguing trail, which offers different views in each season, one can imagine the hefty Bulldog trains carrying oversized freight along the tracks.  Visible remnants of railroad construction remain. Large earthen bowls had been dug out by immigrant laborers in inhospitable weather conditions to provide the dirt needed to level the bed for the tracks.  There are two sections where topography, strewn with boulders, rise on each side of the rail bed indicating where blasting may have been necessary to clear the way. Looking down the embankments one can see and hear the Rivanna River bending its way southward. It draws one to imagine the engineering required more than a century ago to build the rail line alongside a cliff.

Nature has provided numerous trees, ferns and other vegetation along the old rail bed. The deep earthen bowls once dug out are now home to many trees. One of these deep bowls, bucolically beautiful, houses a lovely stream. Old railroad ties, left along the rail bed serve as a reminder of what was once here, the much-loved Virginia Air Line in Palmyra.

The development of the nature trail guide and the installation of coordinating sign posts along the trail were accomplished by the work of several dedicated PARC volunteers: Aaron Spitzer, Director of Parks & Recreation, Jan Pavlacka, Walter Hussey, Jackie Bland and Kornel & Kris Krechoweckyj.

The nature trail can be accessed at the Main Street parking lot in the village of Palmyra across from the courthouse complex. An illustrated nature trail guide is available at the entrance to the trail.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138